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Governor loosens restrictions on outdoor recreation

Middlebury's Ralph Myhre Golf Course opened last Thursday after Gov. Scott loosened restrictions on outdoor recreation and projections show the spread of coronavirus lessening. Photo by Karl Lindholm

VERMONT — Golf courses, parks and other outdoor recreation spots opened up to some degree late last week after Gov. Phil Scott announced limited social interactions might resume at such places under strict health and safety precautions. In his Wednesday press conference Scott noted that modeling of the spread of coronavirus continues the COVID-19 disease is being slowed in the Green Mountain State.
The Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in effect, if able to comply with outlined safety measures, the governor’s latest order allows the following social activities to resume:
• Gatherings of 10 or fewer. Vermonters may now leave home for outdoor recreation and fitness activities with low or no direct physical contact and to resume limited social interactions and gatherings of 10 or fewer, preferably in outdoor settings that allow for greater physical distancing protocols.
• Inter-household socializing. Members of one household may gather – and allow children to play – with members of another trusted family, provided health and safety precautions are followed as much as possible.
The Governor’s order, Addendum 13, includes additional health and safety guidelines for these interactions, including following safety and hygiene protocols, limiting non-essential travel, and protecting those in at-risk categories, which should continue to stay home. It also directs the Commissioner of Health to provide additional recommendations.
Here’s what the new order said: “Effective May 7 all businesses and non-profit and government entities that support or offer outdoor recreation and outdoor fitness activities that require low or no direct physical contact may begin operations, subject to compliance with the health and safety guidelines and training requirements set out below, and applicable Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) guidance. These include, but are not limited to state and municipal parks, recreation associations, trail networks, golf courses, big game check stations and guided expeditions.”Campgrounds, marinas and beaches are still to remain closed.
Ralph Myhre Golf Course in Middlebury and Neshobe Golf Course in Brandon were among the courses that rushed to open. Then the snow on Saturday forced the courses to close for a day or two.
Now that they are open, the golf courses are not operating the same as they have in the past. For instance, the Ralph Myhre clubhouse and locker rooms remain closed. Pencils, scorecards and ball markers will not be provided. Golf carts will be limited to one person, and everyone must bring their own clubs and handle their own golf bag.
There are no rakes in sand bunkers, and no one is allowed to touch the flags at each hole. “The cups will be raised, when a ball touches the cup, it is counted as in,” Ralph Myhre instructions say.
Other instructions include:
• Tee times must be made online or over the phone — not in person. They will be spaced 15 minutes apart/
• Only people currently living in Vermont may play, and proof of residency may be asked for.
Before walking to the first tee, all golfers must check in and verify they have not had any of these symptoms: cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, new loss of smell or taste within the last 14 days, fever now or within the last 24 hours, a diagnosis of COVID-19 or has someone in your household been diagnosed with COVID-19
They will not be allowed to go to the 1st tee until this check has been made.

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